Battle of Yauco

After Rivera, the keeper of the Guánica lighthouse, notified Atilio Gaztambide, the mayor of the town of Yauco, located six miles (10 km) north of Guánica, of the American invasion of Guanica, the mayor in turn notified Governor Macías via telegraph. Governor Macías ordered Captain Salvador Meca and his 3rd company of the 25th Patria Battalion from Yauco to head for Guánica. Meca and his men were joined by Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Puig, who assumed command of the Spanish forces at Hacienda Desideria two miles (3 km) from Guánica. Puig arrived with two companies known as "Cazador Patria Battalion", and they were joined by Puerto Rican volunteers, the Civil Guards, and mounted guerrillas from the towns of Yauco and Sabana Grande. Puig had the men positioned on both sides of the road that ran from Guánica to Hacienda Desideria and Yauco, as well as an infantry company positioned on a hill south of the hacienda.

In the meantime, U.S. Brigadier General George A. Garretson, set out of Guánica with his men towards Yauco with the intention of capturing the Yauco rail terminus that ran between that town and the City of Ponce, the largest city in the southern region of the island. Garretson and his men arrived in the darkness of night and was informed by his scouts of the possibility of a hostile situation at the Hacienda Desideria. He ordered the Illinois company and two companies (companies L and M) of the 6th Massachusetts to occupy a small hill on his right that overlooked the hacienda.

Captain San Pedro detected the movements of the American troops from his positions on a nearby hill and ordered his men to open fire. Garretson then ordered a direct attack on the Spanish and Puerto Rican forces in the hacienda. At day break, the 6th Massachusetts overran the Spanish forces and suffered four casualties. Puig was expecting reinforcements from Yauco which did not arrive and was ordered to disengage and retreat. Before retreating the right wing of the Spanish force, which was not overrun, initiated a flanking attack against two positions held by the Illinois and Massachusetts companies. The unexpected strength of the Spanish force caused some of the 6th Massachusetts troops to momentarily panic, but the Spanish forces were eventually driven off. Puig and his forces suffered two officers and three soldiers wounded and two soldiers dead.

Puig and his men retreated towards Yauco, but failed to destroy the rail terminus which connected the town to the city of Ponce, and proceeded to march towards the town of Peñuelas. Garretson's troops entered Yauco in the afternoon of July 26 and on July 27 Puig's men continued their march, leaving their artillery and heavy equipment behind, passing the towns of Adjuntas and Utuado and finally arriving at the town of Arecibo on the northern coast of the island on July 29. Col. Puig, believing that he would be dishonored and accused by the Spanish Government of abandoning military equipment during his retreat, committed suicide on August 2.

Major General Nelson A. Miles, upon learning about the lack of discipline of the 6th Massachusetts during the battle, ordered an investigation. The 6th Massachusetts was sent on a hard march from Guánica to Ponce as punishment and the regimental commander, a lieutenant colonel, a major, and a captain resigned upon request.

By the evening of July 25th the Spanish military command of Puerto Rico had been alerted to the landings at Guánica, by the keeper of the Guánica lighthouse who from his post at the eastern side of the entrance to Guánica harbor must of had a panoramic view of the thirteen warships and transports of the American invasion fleet. He promptly notified the mayor of Yauco, a town a six miles north of Guánica, who in turn telegraphed Governor Macías. Macías ordered Captain Salvador Meca and his infantry company to proceed from Yauco to Guánica. Captain Salvador Meca led the 3rd company of the 25th Patria Battalion from Yauco to Hacienda Desideria (today known as Hacienda Santa Rita) just two miles outside Guánica with his company, some Puerto Rican volunteers, a few civil guards, and a mounted guerrilla. By 11:00 PM on July 25th Captain Meca was joined by two companies (Cazador Patria Battalion), additional mounted guerrillas under Lieut. Col. Francisco Puig, who assumed command of the Spanish forces, and some volunteers from the towns of Yauco and Sabana Grande